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Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Mohamed al-Dura brand name

Shavua tov - a good week to everyone.

There's a fascinating interview in the JPost this weekend with Philippe Karsenty, the French businessman who has was sued for libel by France 2 for accusing them of staging the death of Mohamed al-Dura. The whole thing is fascinating and deserves to be read, but this is the part you positively can't miss:
You say that the al-Dura image is being used to vilify Israel. How do you explain, then, the film clips on PA TV [distributed by Itamar Marcus's Palestinian Media Watch] showing a young actor portraying Muhammed al-Dura living it up in Paradise and calling on other Palestinian children to join him? In other words, they are using his image as a positive reinforcement for martyrdom.

Who are the people saying it's a good thing to be a martyr - all those jihadist leaders? But notice that they aren't sending out their own children to be martyrs.

[Here he opens his laptop and shows me photos from different places in the Arab world - among them Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia - where the name of Muhammed al-Dura, along with the famous picture of him and his father, on postage stamps, plazas, and even on the dress of a beauty pageant contestant.]

If this image is so widespread that it is the basis of street names and on stamps, isn't it too late to erase it?

No. It's not too late. But we'll need to enlist the help of [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy. I knew him well. I ran against him in the parliament five years ago, and we had a good relationship.

You and he have similar ideologies, don't you?

I don't have an ideology. He and I have a similar pragmatism.

Three years ago, I went to him and said, "Nicolas, I'm being unfairly sued by France 2. Can you help me?"

And he said, "Look, Philippe, I'm only a minister. But when I'm president, I'll do something to solve this case."

Well, now he's president. And, as president, he is the owner of France 2, which is a state-run TV channel. So, he will have to decide whether to stick to the state's version or not. He's always saying that he's against anti-Semitism and that he loves Israel and America. Well, he can prove it. He's got to take the images and have them analyzed by forensic and ballistic experts and decide whether they're true or not.

If he determines they're fake, he has to have France 2 announce this on prime time television and have them apologize. Then French diplomats have to go to every country where there are Muhammed al-Dura squares and schools and streets and suggest they be removed. This is important for the global war against radical Islam, because it's always the same lies feeding the same hate.

If the verdict ends up being in your favor, will you countersue?

We'll see. It really depends on the attitude of France and France 2. If they apologize to the world, I probably wouldn't sue.

But the reason I'm in the middle of this legal battle altogether is because they sued me after I accused them of fraud. [on his Web site, Media Ratings, www.M-R.fr].

Has this struggle on behalf of Israel's reputation brought you closer to Israel?

No. In fact, it has had the opposite effect. Watching Israel refuse to clear its name on this case - which is widening the rift between the Jewish state and the Diaspora - has made me angry and frustrated. [Emphasis mine. CiJ]

Don't get me wrong. I love the Israeli people; they're wonderful. But most of the time, whenever I have to deal with Israeli officials - ambassadors in particular - I'm disappointed. One notable exception was [former Israeli ambassador to Sweden] Zvi Mazel - the "unplugger." [He is referring to Mazel's having pulled out the plug of an electrically operated art exhibit in Sweden glorifying a female suicide bomber]. He was a real diplomat defending his country, not just enjoying gala dinners. Israel needs more diplomats like him.

Another exception is Government Press Office director Danny Seaman - a decent and brave man who held his ground in the face of France 2, and who works for the good of Israel and its future.
Read the whole thing.


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